Frank J. Webb.

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they should attract the attention of their persecutors. Shivering with cold
they drew closer around them the blanket with which they had been
providentially provided.

"Brother, my feet are _so_ cold," sobbed little Em. "I can't feel my toes.
Oh, I'm so cold!"

"Put your feet closer to me, sissy," answered her brother, baring himself
to enwrap her more thoroughly; "put my stockings on over yours;" and, as
well as they were able in the dark, he drew his stockings on over her
benumbed feet. "There, sis, that's better," he whispered, with an attempt
at cheerfulness, "now you'll be warmer."

Just then Clarence heard a groan from his mother, so loud indeed that it
would have been heard without but for the noise and excitement around the
house - and feeling for her in the dark, he asked, "Mother, are you worse?
are you sick?"

A groan was her only answer.

"Mother, mother," he whispered, "do speak, please do!" and he endeavoured
to put his arm around her.

"Don't, dear - don't," said she, faintly, "just take care of your
sister - you can't do me any good - don't speak, dear, the men will hear
you."

Reluctantly the frightened child turned his attention again to his little
sister; ever and anon suppressed groans from his mother would reach his
ears - at last he heard a groan even fierce in its intensity; and then the
sounds grew fainter and fainter until they entirely ceased. The night to
the poor shivering creatures in their hiding place seemed interminably
long, and the sound of voices in the house had not long ceased when the
faint light of day pierced their cheerless shelter.

Hearing the voices of some neighbours in the yard, Clarence hastened out,
and seizing one of the ladies by the dress, cried imploringly, "Do come to
my mother, she's sick."

"Why, where did you come from, chil?" said the lady, with a start of
astonishment. "Where have you been?"

"In there," he answered, pointing to the wood-house. "Mother and sister are
in there."

The lady, accompanied by one or two others, hastened to the wood-house.

"Where is she?" asked the foremost, for in the gloom of the place she could
not perceive anything.

"Here," replied Clarence, "she's lying here." On opening a small window,
they saw Mrs. Garie lying in a corner stretched upon the boards, her head
supported by some blocks. "She's asleep," said Clarence. "Mother - mother,"
but there came no answer. "MOTHER," said he, still louder, but yet there
was no response.

Stepping forward, one of the females opened the shawl, which was held
firmly in the clenched hands of Mrs. Garie - and there in her lap partially
covered by her scanty nightdress, was discovered a new-born babe, who with
its mother had journeyed in the darkness, cold, and night, to the better
land, that they might pour out their woes upon the bosom of their Creator.

The women gazed in mournful silence on the touching scene before them.
Clarence was on his knees, regarding with fear and wonder the unnatural
stillness of his mother - the child had never before looked on death, and
could not recognize its presence. Laying his hand on her cold cheek, he
cried, with faltering voice, "Mother, _can't_ you speak?" but there was no
answering light in the fixed stare of those glassy eyes, and the lips of
the dead could not move. "Why don't she speak?" he asked.

"She can't, my dear; you must come away and leave her. She's better off, my
darling - she's _dead_."

Then there was a cry of grief sprung up from the heart of that orphan boy,
that rang in those women's ears for long years after; it was the first
outbreak of a loving childish heart pierced with life's bitterest grief - a
mother's loss.

The two children were kindly taken into the house of some benevolent
neighbour, as the servants had all fled none knew whither. Little Em was in
a profound stupor - the result of cold and terror, and it was found
necessary to place her under the care of a physician.

After they had all gone, an inquest was held by the coroner, and a very
unsatisfactory and untruthful verdict pronounced - one that did not at all
coincide with the circumstances of the case, but such a one as might have
been expected where there was a great desire to screen the affair from
public scrutiny.



CHAPTER XXII.

An Anxious Day.


Esther Ellis, devoured with anxiety respecting the safety of her father and
the Garies, paced with impatient step up and down the drawing-room. Opening
the window, she looked to see if she could discover any signs of day. "It's
pitchy dark," she exclaimed, "and yet almost five o'clock. Father has run a
fearful risk. I hope nothing has happened to him."

"I trust not. I think he's safe enough somewhere," said Mr. Walters. "He's
no doubt been very cautious, and avoided meeting any one - don't worry
yourself, my child, 'tis most likely he remained with them wherever they
went; probably they are at the house of some of their neighbours."

"I can't help feeling dreadfully oppressed and anxious," continued she. "I
wish he would come."

Whilst she was speaking, her mother entered the room. "Any news of your
father?" she asked, in a tone of anxiety.

Esther endeavoured to conceal her own apprehensions, and rejoined, in as
cheerful tone as she could assume - "Not yet, mother - it's too dark for us
to expect him yet - he'll remain most likely until daylight."

"He shouldn't have gone had I been here - he's no business to expose himself
in this way."

"But, mother," interrupted Esther, "only think of it - the safety of Emily
and the children were depending on it - we mustn't be selfish."

"I know we oughtn't to be, my child," rejoined her mother, "but it's
natural to the best of us - sometimes we can't help it." Five - six - seven
o'clock came and passed, and still there were no tidings of Mr. Ellis.

"I can bear this suspense no longer," exclaimed Esther. "If father don't
come soon, I shall go and look for him. I've tried to flatter myself that
he's safe; but I'm almost convinced now that something has happened to him,
or he'd have come back long before this - he knows how anxious we would all
be about him. I've tried to quiet mother and Caddy by suggesting various
reasons for his delay, but, at the same time, I cannot but cherish the most
dismal forebodings. I must go and look for him."

"No, no, Esther - stay where you are at present - leave that to me. I'll
order a carriage and go up to Garie's immediately."

"Well, do, Mr. Walters, and hurry back: won't you?" she rejoined, as he
left the apartment.

In a few moments he returned, prepared to start, and was speedily driven to
Winter-street. He found a group of people gathered before the gate, gazing
into the house. "The place has been attacked," said he, as he walked
towards the front door - picking his way amidst fragments of furniture,
straw, and broken glass. At the entrance of the house he was met by Mr.
Balch, Mr. Garie's lawyer.

"This is a shocking affair, Walters," said he, extending his hand - he was
an old friend of Mr. Walters.

"Very shocking, indeed," he replied, looking around. "But where is Garie?
We sent to warn them of this. I hope they are all safe."

"Safe!" repeated Mr. Balch, with an air of astonishment. "Why, man, haven't
you heard?"

"Heard what?" asked Mr. Walters, looking alarmed.

"That Mr. and Mrs. Garie are dead - both were killed last night."

The shock of this sudden and totally unexpected disclosure was such that
Mr. Walters leaned against the doorway for support. "It can't be possible,"
he exclaimed at last, "not dead!" "Yes, _dead_, I regret to say - he was
shot through the head - and she died in the wood-house, of premature
confinement, brought on by fright and exposure."

"And the children?" gasped Walters.

"They are safe, with some neighbours - it's heart-breaking to hear them
weeping for their mother." Here a tear glistened in the eye of Mr. Balch,
and ran down his cheek. Brushing it off, he continued: "The coroner has
just held an inquest, and they gave a most truthless verdict: nothing
whatever is said of the cause of the murder, or of the murderers; they
simply rendered a verdict - death caused by a wound from a pistol-shot, and
hers - death from exposure. There seemed the greatest anxiety on the part of
the coroner to get the matter over as quickly as possible, and few or no
witnesses were examined. But I'm determined to sift the matter to the
bottom; if the perpetrators of the murder can be discovered, I'll leave no
means untried to find them."

"Do you know any one who sat on the inquest?" asked Walters.

"Yes, one," was the reply, "Slippery George, the lawyer; you are acquainted
with him - George Stevens. I find he resides next door."

"Do you know," here interrupted Mr. Walters, "that I've my suspicions that
that villain is at the bottom of these disturbances or at least has a large
share in them. I have a paper in my possession, in his handwriting - it is
in fact a list of the places destroyed by the mob last night - it fell into
the hands of a friend of mine by accident - he gave it to me - it put me on
my guard; and when the villains attacked my house last night they got
rather a warmer reception than they bargained for."

"You astonish me! Is it possible your place was assaulted also?" asked Mr.
Balch.

"Indeed, it was - and a hot battle we had of it for a short space of time.
But how did you hear of this affair?"

"I was sent for by I can't tell whom. When I came and saw what had
happened, I immediately set about searching for a will that I made for Mr.
Garie a few weeks since; it was witnessed and signed at my office, and he
brought it away with him. I can't discover it anywhere. I've ransacked
every cranny. It must have been carried off by some one. You are named in
it conjointly with myself as executor. All the property is left to her,
poor thing, and his children. We must endeavour to find it somewhere - at
any rate the children are secure; they are the only heirs - he had not, to
my knowledge, a single white relative. But let us go in and see the
bodies."

They walked together into the back room where the bodies were lying. Mrs.
Garie was stretched upon the sofa, covered with a piano cloth; and her
husband was laid upon a long table, with a silk window-curtain thrown
across his face.

The two gazed in silence on the face of Mr. Garie - the brow was still knit,
the eyes staring vacantly, and the marble whiteness of the face unbroken,
save by a few gouts of blood near a small blue spot over the eye where the
bullet had entered.

"He was the best-hearted creature in the world," said Walters, as he
re-covered the face.

"Won't you look at her?" asked Mr. Balch.

"No, no - I can't," continued Walters; "I've seen horrors enough for one
morning. I've another thing on my mind! A friend who assisted in the
defence of my house started up here last night, to warn them of their
danger, and when I left home he had not returned: it's evident he hasn't
been here, and I greatly fear some misfortune has befallen him. Where are
the children? Poor little orphans, I must see them before I go."

Accompanied by Mr. Balch, he called at the house where Clarence and Em had
found temporary shelter. The children ran to him as soon as he entered the
room. "Oh! Mr. Walters," sobbed Clarence, "my mother's dead - my mother's
dead!"

"Hush, dears - hush!" he replied, endeavouring to restrain his own tears, as
he took little Em in his arms. "Don't cry, my darling," said he, as she
gave rent to a fresh outburst of tears.

"Oh, Mr. Walters!" said she, still sobbing, "she was all the mother I had."

Mr. Balch here endeavoured to assist in pacifying the two little mourners.

"Why don't father come?" asked Clarence. "Have you seen him, Mr. Walters?"

Mr. Walters was quite taken aback by this inquiry, which clearly showed
that the children were still unaware of the extent of their misfortunes.
"I've seen him, my child," said he, evasively; "you'll see him before
long." And fearful of further questioning, he left the house, promising
soon to return.

Unable longer to endure her anxiety respecting her father, Esther
determined not to await the return of Mr. Walters, which had already been
greatly delayed, but to go herself in search of him. It had occurred to her
that, instead of returning from the Garies direct to them, he had probably
gone to his own home to see if it had been disturbed during the night.

Encouraged by this idea, without consulting any one, she hastily put on her
cloak and bonnet, and took the direction of her home. Numbers of people
were wending their way to the lower part of the city, to gratify their
curiosity by gazing upon the havoc made by the rioters during the past
night.

Esther found her home a heap of smoking ruins; some of the neighbours who
recognized her gathered round, expressing their sympathy and regret. But
she seemed comparatively careless respecting the loss of their property;
and in answer to their kind expressions, could only ask, "Have you seen my
father? - do you know where my father is?"

None, however, had seen him; and after gazing for a short time upon the
ruins of what was once a happy home, she turned mournfully away, and walked
back to Mr. Walters's.

"Has father come?" she inquired, as soon as the door was opened. "Not
yet!" was the discouraging reply: "and Mr. Walters, he hasn't come back,
either, miss!"

Esther stood for some moments hesitating whether to go in, or to proceed in
her search. The voice of her mother calling her from the stairway decided
her, and she went in.

Mrs. Ellis and Caddy wept freely on learning from Esther the destruction of
their home. This cause of grief, added to the anxiety produced by the
prolonged absence of Mr. Ellis, rendered them truly miserable.

Whilst they were condoling with one another, Mr. Walters returned. He was
unable to conceal his fears that something had happened to Mr. Ellis, and
frankly told them so; he also gave a detailed account of what had befallen
the Garies, to the great horror and grief of all.

As soon as arrangements could be made, Mr. Walters and Esther set out in
search of her father. All day long they went from place to place, but
gained no tidings of him; and weary and disheartened they returned at
night, bringing with them the distressing intelligence of their utter
failure to procure any information respecting him.



CHAPTER XXIII.

The Lost One Found.


On the day succeeding the events described in our last chapter, Mr. Walters
called upon Mr. Balch, for the purpose of making the necessary preparations
for the interment of Mr. and Mrs. Garie.

"I think," said Mr. Balch, "we had better bury them in the Ash-grove
cemetery; it's a lovely spot - all my people are buried there."

"The place is fine enough, I acknowledge," rejoined Mr. Walters; "but I
much doubt if you can procure the necessary ground."

"Oh, yes, you can!" said Mr. Balch; "there are a number of lots still
unappropriated."

"That may very likely be so; but are you sure we can get one if we apply?"

"Of course we can - what is to prevent?" asked Mr. Balch.

"You forget," replied Mr. Walters, "that Mrs. Garie was a coloured woman."

"If it wasn't such a solemn subject I really should be obliged to laugh at
you, Walters," rejoined Mr. Balch, with a smile - "you talk ridiculously.
What can her complexion have to do with her being buried there, I should
like to know?"

"It has everything to do with it! Can it be possible you are not aware that
they won't even permit a coloured person to walk through the ground, much
less to be buried there!"

"You astonish me, Walters! Are you sure of it?"

"I give you my word of honour it is so! But why should you be astonished at
such treatment of the dead, when you see how they conduct themselves
towards the living? I have a friend," continued Mr. Walters, "who
purchased a pew for himself and family in a white-church, and the deacons
actually removed the floor from under it, to prevent his sitting there.
They refuse us permission to kneel by the side of the white communicants at
the Lord's Supper, and give us separate pews in obscure corners of their
churches. All this you know - why, then, be surprised that they carry their
prejudices into their graveyards? - the conduct is all of a piece."

"Well, Walters, I know the way things are conducted in our churches is
exceedingly reprehensible; but I really did not know they stretched their
prejudices to such an extent."

"I assure you they do, then," resumed Mr. Walters; "and in this very matter
you'll find I'm correct. Ask Stormley, the undertaker, and hear what he'll
tell you. Oh! a case in point. - About six months ago, one of our wealthiest
citizens lost by death an old family servant, a coloured woman, a sort of
half-housekeeper - half-friend. She resembled him so much, that it was
generally believed she was his sister. Well, he tried to have her laid in
their family vault, and it was refused; the directors thought it would be
creating a bad precedent - they said, as they would not sell lots to
coloured persons, they couldn't consistently permit them to be buried in
those of the whites."

"Then Ash-grove must be abandoned; and in lieu of that what can you
propose?" asked Mr. Balch.

"I should say we can't do better than lay them in the graveyard of the
coloured Episcopal church."

"Let it be there, then. You will see to the arrangements, Walters. I shall
have enough on my hands for the present, searching for that will: I have
already offered a large reward for it - I trust it may turn up yet."

"Perhaps it may," rejoined Mr. Walters; "we must hope so, at least. I've
brought the children to my house, where they are under the care of a young
lady who was a great friend of their mother's; though it seems like putting
too much upon the poor young creature, to throw them upon her for
consolation, when she is almost distracted with her own griefs. I think I
mentioned to you yesterday, that her father is missing; and, to add to
their anxieties, their property has been all destroyed by the rioters. They
have a home with me for the present, and may remain there as long as they
please."

"Oh! I remember you told me something of them yesterday; and now I come to
think of it, I saw in the Journal this morning, that a coloured man was
lying at the hospital very much injured, whose name they could not
ascertain. Can it be possible that he is the man you are in search of?"

"Let me see the article," asked Mr. Walters. Mr. Balch handed him the
paper, and pointed out the paragraph in question.

"I'll go immediately to the hospital," said he, as he finished reading,
"and see if it is my poor friend; I have great fears that it is. You'll
excuse my leaving so abruptly - I must be off immediately."

On hastening to the hospital, Mr. Walters arrived just in time to be
admitted to the wards; and on being shown the person whose name they had
been unable to discover, he immediately recognized his friend.

"Ellis, my poor fellow," he exclaimed, springing forward.

"Stop, stop," cried the attendant, laying his hand upon Mr. Walters's
shoulder; "he is hovering between life and death, the least agitation might
be fatal to him. The doctor says, if he survives the night, he may probably
get better; but he has small chance of life. I hardly think he will last
twelve hours more, he's been dreadfully beaten; there are two or three
gashes on his head, his leg is broken, and his hands have been so much cut,
that the surgeon thinks they'll never be of any use to him, even if he
recovers."

"What awful intelligence for his family," said Mr. Walters; "they are
already half distracted about him."

Mr. Ellis lay perfectly unconscious of what was passing around him, and his
moans were deeply affecting to hear, unable to move but one limb - he was
the picture of helplessness and misery.

"It's time to close; we don't permit visitors to remain after this hour,"
said the attendant; "come to-morrow, you can see your friend, and remain
longer with him;" and bidding Mr. Walters good morning, he ushered him from
the ward.

"How shall I ever find means to break this to the girls and their mother?"
said he, as he left the gates of the hospital; "it will almost kill them;
really I don't know what I shall say to them."

He walked homeward with hesitating steps, and on arriving at his house, he
paused awhile before the door, mustering up courage to enter; at last he
opened it with the air of a man who had a disagreeable duty to perform, and
had made up his mind to go through with it. "Tell Miss Ellis to come to the
drawing-room," said he to the servant; "merely say she's wanted - don't say
I've returned."

He waited but a few moments before Esther made her appearance, looking sad
and anxious. "Oh, it's you," she said, with some surprise. "You have news
of father?"

"Yes, Esther, I have news; but I am sorry to say not of a pleasant
character."

"Oh, Mr. Walters, nothing serious I hope has happened to him?" she asked,
in an agitated tone.

"I'm sorry to say there has, Esther; he has met with an accident - a sad and
severe one - he's been badly wounded." Esther turned deadly pale at this
announcement, and leaned upon the table for support.

"I sent for you, Esther," continued Mr. Walters, "in preference to your
mother, because I knew you to be courageous in danger, and I trusted you
would be equally so in misfortune. Your father's case is a very critical
one - very. It appears that after leaving here, he fell into the hands of
the rioters, by whom he was shockingly beaten. He was taken to the
hospital, where he now remains."

"Oh, let me go to him at once, do, Mr. Walters!

"My dear child, it is impossible for you to see him to-day, it is long past
the visiting hour; moreover, I don't think him in a state that would permit
the least agitation. To-morrow you can go with me." Esther did not weep,
her heart was too full for tears. With a pale face, and trembling lips, she
said to Mr. Walters, "God give us strength to bear up under these
misfortunes; we are homeless - almost beggars - our friends have been
murdered, and my father is now trembling on the brink of the grave; such
troubles as these," said she, sinking into a chair, "are enough to crush
any one."

"I know it, Esther; I know it, my child. I sympathize with you deeply. All
that I have is at your disposal. You may command me in anything. Give
yourself no uneasiness respecting the future of your mother and family, let
the result to your father be what it may: always bear in mind that, next to
God, I am your best friend. I speak thus frankly to you, Esther, because I
would not have you cherish any hopes of your father's recovery; from his
appearance, I should say there is but little, if any. I leave to you, my
good girl, the task of breaking this sad news to your mother and sister; I
would tell them, but I must confess, Esther, I'm not equal to it, the
events of the last day or two have almost overpowered me."

Esther's lips quivered again, as she repeated the words, "Little hope; did
the doctor say that?" she asked.

"I did not see the doctor," replied he; "perhaps there may be a favourable
change during the night. I'd have you prepare for the worst, whilst you
hope for the best. Go now and try to break it as gently as possible to your
mother."

Esther left the room with heavy step, and walked to the chamber where her
mother was sitting. Caddy also was there, rocking backwards and forwards in
a chair, in an earnest endeavour to soothe to sleep little Em, who was
sitting in her lap.

"Who was it, Esther?" asked, her mother.

"Mr. Walters," she hesitatingly answered.

"Was it? Well, has he heard anything of your father?" she asked, anxiously.

Esther turned away her head, and remained silent.

"Why don't you answer?" asked her mother, with an alarmed look; "if you
know anything of him, for God's sake tell me. Whatever it may be, it can't
be worse than I expect; is he dead?" she asked.

"No - no, mother, he's not dead; but he's sick, very sick, mother. Mr.
Walters found him in the hospital."

"In the hospital! how came he there? Don't deceive me, Esther, there's
something behind all this; are you telling me the truth? is he still
alive?"

"Mother, believe me, he is still alive, but how long he may remain so, God
only knows." Mrs. Ellis, at this communication, leant her head upon the
table, and wept uncontrollably. Caddy put down her little charge, and stood
beside her mother, endeavouring to soothe her, whilst unable to restrain
her own grief.

"Let us go to him, Esther," said her mother, rising; "I must see him - let



Online LibraryFrank J. WebbThe Garies and Their Friends → online text (page 18 of 30)